Digital innovation holds the key to making COP28 count

ETF Partners
3 min readNov 29, 2023

By Patrick Sheehan and Rob Genieser, Managing Partners, ETF Partners

Each year, close to 200 countries gather in an agreement to fight the destructive potential of climate change. At the COP conferences, world leaders have implemented crucial targets for industries and governments to stem our rapid increase in global temperatures and at this year’s COP28, our Managing Partner Rob Genieser will be chairing a panel on innovative technologies. It is a vital step towards addressing the most pressing and existential threat we all face. Yet, as each edition of COP passes, reaching these ambitious climate goals becomes harder and harder. To achieve our necessary targets, more than just hope and diplomacy is required — there is also a vital need to fast track practical strategies and climate-focused innovations if we are to create a fully sustainable future.

At ETF Partners, we have spent the past 17 years championing digital technologies; technologies that can be quickly and efficiently deployed and so can have large positive impact in clmate, fast. We know that we must transition to clean energy but the speed at which we can achieve this goal hinges on our ability to adapt and manage technological disruptions. If these disruptions are managed effectively changes can be seen as a benefit to people rather than a cost and the pace of development can more easily continue to accelerate.

The companies in our portfolio already exemplify the many ways that digital tech can supplement the policy work of COP28 to accelerate solutions to climate change. AI-assisted platform DeepSea Technologies uses machine learning to decarbonise the hard to abate shipping industry, mapping out emissions data for large vessels and allowing companies to save money and energy by optimising the performance of ships. Open Cosmos employs satellite technology to provide key data and insights into hard to abate sectors such as agriculture, helping businesses monitor yields as well as providing navigation solutions or even mapping out the impacts of environmental disasters like oil spills.

On a more day to day level, our portfolio company Zeelo has found great success by helping organisations provide effective, route-optimised bussing services; getting large number of people out of individual cars. The company experienced a 600% growth from 2019 to 2021 and recently completed a $14 million funding round to enhance their tech-enabled services. In food waste, Phenix provides a platform for businesses to better manage their waste and find ways to use excess produce to support vulnerable communities, as well as allowing consumers the chance to use items that would otherwise be thrown away. Since one third of the food in the world is wasted, Phenix is tackling an urgent problem and currently averages saving 120,000 meals per day with 2.5 million users registered on their app.

Finally, in fashion, Fairly Made is confronting the complex issue of supply chains and the environmental and social impact of garments. Through utilising their comprehensive platform, companies can provide consumers with a traceable history of their items, as well as evaluating existing products and supply chains, to create a greener and more sustainable impact that aligns with new EU and governmental regulations. In recognition of their impressive work, Fairly Made was recently selected as a finalist for the industry-leading Drapers Awards 2023, nominated in the Tech Innovator of the Year category.

These are just a few examples of the ways in which digital technology can add what we call an intelligence layer to climate-focused operations, allowing necessary innovations to scale at pace. While COP28 is an indispensable platform to encourage this shift, it is just one step in a long journey. We must prepare ourselves for a future that contains seismic changes in the fight against the climate crisis, since sustainability is going to affect every sector, each facet of business operations and all aspects of the economy. Right now, we can make a difference through targeted investment and the acceleration of digital innovation.

We have the technology we need in our grasp: but there is no room for complacency.



ETF Partners

We create value by investing in and supporting great European companies that deliver Sustainability Through Innovation.